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HD DVD Review: Firewall

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Firewall wants to be a modern take on the thriller, adding in fancy technology and tossing in long explanations for how it all works (even though the characters already know). Where it fails is in its generic execution and complete lack of tension. The plot is also ludicrous, and the crooks' plan loaded with sheer stupidity.

Harrison Ford is Jack Stanfield, a high-ranking bank security officer who personally set up the Internet security system. What he’s really playing is a clumsy, older hero out to rescue his family currently kidnapped by a gang of bank robbers who have a plan so long-winded, it could never possibly work. They force Jack to break into his own system and send them money before letting his family go, though things get complicated before that happens.

Opening shots of Jack and his near perfect household provide the quick set-up that he cares for his family. It’s almost nauseating how generic these shots are, though thankfully Paul Bettany arrives on screen as the cold leader of the robbers to quickly pull Firewall out its rut. His performance is one of the few noteworthy aspects of the film.

The plan should work, yet leaves questions in its wake. Supposedly, Jack is set up as the criminals give him a $95,000 gambling debt, which would later become his motive for taking $100 million from the bank as blame for the crime is placed on his shoulders. However, Jack obviously has few financial difficulties as he offers millions to his captors to let his family go without flinching. Money is obviously no object, and the chances of authorities not believing Jack are slim at best.

Firewall ends with the standard genre finale of fights, guns, and explosions. While fun, especially since Ford is not playing a tough character by any stretch, it’s not as thrilling or engaging as it should be. This is a movie that feels a lot longer than its 90 minute running time.

The movie starts strong on HD DVD. There’s plenty of detailed contrast, and color remains bright. It’s wonderfully sharp and crisp. As times passes, the transfer loses some of its edge, looking diluted and lacking the pop it initially had. Black levels go flat, though detail remains strong.

There are a few positives to discuss with the audio. Scenes with thunder create a nice resonance, cars move properly through the sound field, and a crowded airport delivers with ambient audio. The finales explosion and fight deliver, though the overall sound presentation is sparse and dialogue driven.

Firewall decoded stands as one of two extras, and you have flip the disc over to access them. This one is a conversation between Ford and director Richard Loncraine, and it’s surprisingly honest. They discuss scripting and re-shoots, almost admitting things didn’t go as planned. Firewall – Writing a Thriller is short three minute piece with writer Joe Forte discussing his influences, while trying to draw parallels to the film and 9/11.

The Equifax website used in the film is actually real. Web designers for the company came up with the direct copy, and created a database for the actors to connect to so they could display the necessary information when needed.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.